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IN THE NIGHT GARDEN

Nighttime is the right time for young readers thanks to this perfect amalgamation of soothing text and image.

A cut-paper extravaganza welcomes young readers to the wonders of the nighttime.

The titular phrase “In the night garden” kicks off this exploration of a bedtime world. Indeed, those words repeat themselves several times as readers watch fireflies that resemble stars, the opening of perfumed moonflowers, and a black cat that acts as a guide through most of the book. Readers are led on a gentle journey past streams, crickets, and even bullfrogs croaking in the night before we see a tan-skinned child—depicted early on in the story gazing at stars—tucked into bed, yawning. Exceedingly delicate paper collages incorporate everything from ticket stubs and receipts to ledger books to make the darkness magical, the most impressive sight being the dramatically rendered harvest moon, all “fiery red” in the sky. Berger’s pen is just as adept as her scissors as she twists a turn of phrase into its simplest and most evocative form, as when “bats swoop and glide in the bluing sky.” Children are told not to fear when the light is gone or when they hear strange noises. “Just close your eyes and listen,” and young readers will do just that. Indeed, they’ll be unable to resist. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nighttime is the right time for young readers thanks to this perfect amalgamation of soothing text and image. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780823449866

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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